Constructed in 1568, this synagogue was destroyed in 1662 by cannon fire during a Portuguese raid and was rebuilt two years later when Kochi came under the Dutch yoke.The 19th century glass chandeliers from Belgium, painted blue willow-patterned Chinese floor tiles from the 18th century, and the gallery for women with its slender gilt columns are interesting features. A 4th century copper plate carries the Maharaja’s inscription in Malayalam, but in the unique kannadiezhuthu script that is decipherable only with the aid of a mirror.
Clock tower :
Built in 1760 by Ezekiel Rahabi, an affluent Jewish businessman, the clock tower stands next to the synagogue. This is a great mystery as Jewish tradition does not have the custom of ringing bells. Made 200 years after the synagogue, the clock has four faces – the one facing the Maharaja’s palace showed time in Malayalam, another etched in Roman numerals was meant for the traders, the third side that faced the synagogue was in Hebrew, and the fourth side was kept mysteriously blank. Although it stopped working after the 1930s, the World Monument Fund has recently restored it.
Antique Shops in Jew Street:
With the return of the Jews to Israel, their dwellings fell into disrepair and many were torn down to make way for newer structures. Anything that could be salvaged – woodwork, furniture, artefacts, vessels and brass work – of both utility and aesthetic value, found their way into antique shops that sprang up in the meandering alleys of Jew Town. Increasing demand, spurred on by tourism, brought traditional and contemporary bric-a-brac from all over the country into these shops.
Jew Street in Mattancherry is saturated with the smell of ginger, cardamom, cloves and pepper, thanks to the spice market that still survives. Trucks feed pushcarts that transport sackloads of spices in and out of the warehouses that line the narrow streets. Traders haggle frantically as workers dry, sort and pack the spices for retail.
Thirumala Devaswom Temple:
Built in 1599, the temple houses the idol of Venkatachalapathi Thirumala Devar, believed to be responsible for the prosperity of the Konkani community that flourished in trade and commerce. Both temple and idol have had a chequered history and have been plundered and restored time and again.